cover image Gesell Dome

Gesell Dome

Guillermo Saccomanno, trans. from the Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger. Open Letter, $18.95 trade paper (600p) ISBN 978-1-940953-38-0

Never was there a cityscape as immersive, or a populace as rife with iniquity, as in Argentinian writer Saccomanno’s noirish Gesell Dome, his first novel to be translated into English. The Argentinian town referred to as Villa is a seaside summer resort spot—but when the tourists leave and only the locals remain, a tangle of outlandish corruption, violence, and dark histories are unveiled. To begin with, there’s the suicide of a pregnant middle schooler, a sexual abuse scandal at a kindergarten, and a devastating real estate development known as the Twin Towers that divides the town. But this turns out to be nothing compared to the secret lives of the three Quiroses brothers: crooked lawyer Alejo, Braulio, and Julián, the Villa’s so-called Kennedys, who do their best to control their constituents. These include the mayor’s unruly son, Gonzalo, whose attempt to blackmail Alejo backfires miserably; Julián’s wife, Adrian (willing to go to absurd lengths for her Pilates studio); and Dante, editor and sole contributor to El Vocero, who, with the help of limo driver Rimigio, chronicles his township’s ills. Tales range from the story of El Muertito, the monster who stalks the forests at night, to whispers of the Villa’s Nazi diaspora. Then there are oddballs such as the loan shark called the Duchess, and cursed painter Claude Fournier, who all have a part to play in the Villa’s mounting intrigues. Like Twin Peaks reimagined by Roberto Bolaño, Gesell Dome is a teeming microcosm in which voices combine into a rich, engrossing symphony of human depravity. (Aug.)